Pearl River Pianos | The Largest In The World
Founded in 1956, the Pearl River Piano Group has grown to become the largest piano manufacturer in the world. Employing well over 2,000 workers, their large factory produces over 125,000 pianos annually. Based in Guangzhou, China, the company’s pianos are the most selected in that country. Their control over this large market combined with exports to over 100 other countries, has allowed Pearl River to rise to the top of the industry when it comes to the volume of pianos produced. Pearl River was the first piano maker in China to earn the ISO 9001 rating and recently was awarded the ISO 14001 – the first Chinese manufacturer to earn this award.
The Many Names of Pearl River
Like many other Chinese piano makers, Pearl River has partnered with other worldwide companies to produce ‘stencil brand’ instruments. Since 2005, Pearl River has manufactured the ‘Essex’ line of budget pianos for Steinway & Sons. This agreement was the first time the company worked with a Western piano brand. The Essex line was introduced to allow Steinway Dealers to offer a budget piano alongside their actual Steinway and Kawai-built Boston instrument. The Essex brand has created some confusion within the piano market, as some consumers believe their piano was actually built by Steinway & Sons. In 1995, Pearl River worked with Yamaha to establish a factory to build pianos for the Chinese market. A number of large piano stores in the United States contract with Pearl River to produce their ‘house brand’ pianos.
Unlike many other Chinese makers, Pearl River has marketed their pianos under their own name as well. In fact, they were the first Chinese piano company to sell pianos in the United States utilizing their own company name. [Similar companies utilize long discontinued American or European maker names, or create one that sounds ‘authentic.] In 2007, Pearl River began the process of designing their Ritmuller series of pianos. Designed to be a higher end offering from the company, they were first introduced to the North American market in 2009.
Recently, Pearl River has attempted to enter the ‘upper-level’ North American market with their Kayserburg Artists Series of pianos. These instruments are built by the company’s more experienced craftsmen and feature solid spruce soundboards, Renner hammers, and other quality materials. In 2016, Pearl River completed the purchase of famed German piano maker, Schimmel. The Schimmel factory is still located in Germany and there are no apparent plans to move it to China.
Pearl River | A Conclusion
Pearl River does a good job of producing very affordable, budget instruments. Quality control has risen over recent years, making them an option for those looking for a beginning instrument. We have found them to be quite popular during our time as a Pearl River dealer. If you are in the market for a Pearl River, we do suggest the consideration of a quality Japanese-built Kawai instrument.
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